A few days ago the US carried out some attacks to take out the senior leader of the al-Shabab terrorist group. The effort happened in Somalia but apparently it was Uganda that gave the US the needed intelligence to find the guy. Since that has happened it has come to our attention that it isn’t a great thing to be an American in Uganda, as both are on the “bad list” for terrorist groups operating in the surrounding areas. We have spent a few days “sheltering in place” by the mandate of the US Embassy here, and since a terrorist cell (with explosives a plan for an attack) was discovered in close proximity to where we are living, we have limited our activity and adventurous outings. It’s been a delicate balance- how to not live in fear, but how to be wise given the fact that we are here with four small children, and we have erred on the side of caution.
Four days into the “altered activity” I started to feel really sad. I love adventure and experiencing new cultures- immersing myself (and my family) among the life and food and people of the places we go. There’s so much to enjoy along these lines in Uganda and it has killed me to have to be behind the gate of our community so much. There’s a world out there that we are missing out on, and that’s just how they want it. Terrorism works because it instills fear in people that inhibits us from living out life as we would otherwise.
This restricted activity has also made me want to go home. I finally realized that it’s because if we can’t experience all that Uganda has to offer and if we have to just hang out at home, we might as well get the heck out of here and at least not have to worry about our safety (or do we? false illusion exposed, I think.). So much to think about.
(Interesting notes: not only did we live close to the terrorist cell that was discovered, but we also lived a few doors down from a high-powered Ugandan government official. We had convoys of soldiers with guns camped out in our complex whenever this individual was home. I’m not sure if that made us feel safer, or like more of a target! Also, at the time the warning was issued, the only two places we had left to visit to complete our process where the embassy and the airport- both places on the list of potential targets and places to avoid. Awesome.)